Biodiversity Action Plan 2016-2021

International, European and National Policy Relating to Biodiversity

Since the writing of the initial Biodiversity Action Plan in 2010, there has been a number of changes and developments in terms of national, European and global biodiversity targets and policies. The main policy updates and the way in which Bord na Móna has responded are outlined here:

The Convention on Biodiversity

New Strategic Plan for the Convention 2011-2020 – Living in Harmony with Nature

In October 2010 the 10th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) in Nagoya, Japan adopted the new strategic plan for the period 2011 to 2020. The theme of the strategic plan is Living in Harmony with Nature. All countries and partners who are signed up to the CBD (this includes Ireland and the European Union) were tasked with updating their own national plans according to the targets set out in the CBD strategic plan. The plan has a long-term vision for 2050, as well as a mission for 2020.

Living in Harmony with Nature – the vision and mission

The Strategic Plan is comprised of a shared vision, a mission, strategic goals and 20 ambitious yet achievable targets, collectively known as the Aichi Targets. The Strategic Plan serves as a flexible framework for the establishment of national and regional targets and it promotes the coherent and effective implementation of the three objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The CBD Vision: “By 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved and restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people”

THE MISSION of the CBD Strategic Plan is to ensure a coherent implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity and achievement of its three objectives by taking “effective and urgent action to halt the loss of biodiversity to ensure that, by 2020, ecosystems are resilient and continue to provide essential services, thereby securing the planet’s variety of life and contributing to human well-being and poverty eradication. To ensure this, pressures on biodiversity are reduced, ecosystems are restored, biological resources are sustainably used and benefits arising out of utilization of genetic resources are shared in a fair and equitable manner; adequate financial resources are provided, capacities are enhanced, biodiversity issues and values mainstreamed, appropriate policies are effectively implemented, and decision-making is based on sound science and the precautionary approach.”

The CBD Mission has 20 headline targets for 2020, organised under five Strategic Goals which identify the different aspects of approaching the issue of biodiversity loss. These are:

  • Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society
  • Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use
  • Improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity
  • Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services
  • Enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building

The goals and targets provide a framework for the establishment of national targets. The United Nations has also decided, in order to further drive progress, to designate the period 2011-2020 as the UN Decade on Biodiversity.

For more information see Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Targets

 

The key targets of the CBD plan have been incorporated into the EU Biodiversity Action Plan and Ireland’s National Biodiversity Plan (2011-2016). These include:

  • At least halve and, where feasible, bring close to zero the rate of loss of natural habitats, including forests
  • Establish a conservation target of 17% of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10% of marine and coastal areas
  • Restore at least 15% of degraded areas through conservation and restoration activities
  • Make special efforts to reduce the pressures faced by coral reefs
The cutaway bogs are home to a number of bird species including (above left) Wheatear and Lapwing (above right).

The cutaway bogs are home to a number of bird species including (above left) Wheatear and Lapwing (above right).

The EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020

In May 2011, the European Commission adopted a new strategy to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU by 2020. The strategy is in line with the global commitments made in Nagoya in October 2010, in the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity (outlined previously).

EU Vision and Headline Target: The EU has articulated its long-term vision as “by 2050 EU Biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides – its natural capital – are protected, valued and appropriately restored for biodiversity’s intrinsic value and for their essential contribution to human well-being and economic prosperity, and so that catastrophic changes caused by the loss of biodiversity are avoided”

The EU has also published its Headline Target for progress by 2020 as “to halt the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems in the EU by 2020, restore them in so far as feasible, while stepping up the EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss”. The EU Commission published, in 2011, a communication on the new EU Biodiversity Strategy, entitled “Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020”. This Communication identifies 6 main targets (supported by 20 actions):

  • Full implementation of the nature directives (Habitats and Birds)
  • Maintain and restore ecosystems and their services
  • Increase the contribution of agriculture and forestry to maintaining and enhancing biodiversity
  • Ensure the sustainable use of fisheries resources
  • Combat invasive alien species
  • Help avert global biodiversity loss

For more information see: www.eur-lex.europa.eu

It is the role of individual countries to develop national plans for biodiversity, but they must reflect the targets set out in the EU Biodiversity Strategy. The key aspects for delivering targets on biodiversity are the Directives relating to Habitats, Birds, Water, Marine and EIA.

Ireland’s National Biodiversity Plan

Actions for Biodiversity 2011–2016

As a member of the European Union, Ireland contributes to the work of conserving biodiversity in the entire territory of the 27 Member States. Since Ireland’s policies and legislation on biodiversity are strongly influenced by the EU, this Plan addresses not just national but also wider European issues. Ireland’s National Biodiversity Plan has been developed in line with the EU and International Biodiversity strategies and policies. The 2011-2016 plan builds on the initial plan developed for 2002- 2006 and is set out in terms of an overall vision and overarching target, underpinned by strategic objectives and actions.

Ireland’s Vision: “That biodiversity and ecosystems in Ireland are conserved and restored, delivering benefits essential for all sectors of society and that Ireland contributes to efforts to halt the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems in the EU and globally”

The Overarching Target of the plan, based on the actions which follow is: “That biodiversity loss and degradation of ecosystems are reduced by 2016 and progress is made towards substantial recovery by 2020”.

The measures that Ireland will take in the overall strategy are presented in a series of objectives as follows:

  • To mainstream biodiversity in the decision-making process across all sectors
  • To substantially strengthen the knowledge base for conservation, management and sustainable use of biodiversity
  • To increase awareness and appreciation of biodiversity and ecosystems services
  • To conserve and restore biodiversity and ecosystem services in the wider countryside
  • To conserve and restore biodiversity and ecosystem services in the marine environment
  • To expand and improve on the management of protected areas and legally protected species
  • To substantially strengthen the effectiveness of international governance for biodiversity and
    ecosystem services

The National Biodiversity Plan is currently being prepared for review and update (2016).

For more information see: www.npws.ie

As a member of the European Union, Ireland contributes to the work of conserving biodiversity in the entire territory of the 27 Member States.

Cloonshannagh raised bog remnant (bog restored in 2014).

Cloonshannagh raised bog remnant (bog restored in 2014).

Bord na Móna’s contribution

Ireland’s National Biodiversity Plan 2011–2016

In terms of Bord na Móna’s input to the National Biodiversity Plan (2011-2016), the company was part of the initial consultations carried out in 2008 and continued to input to the plan up to its final publication in 2011. The key specific inputs were in relation to Objective 4, Target 10 and its component actions:

Objective 4: To conserve and restore biodiversity and ecosystems in the wider countryside

Target 10: Continued rehabilitation or restoration of biodiversity elements

Actions

  • 10.1 Identify areas of biodiversity value, or biodiversity hotspots, within Bord na Móna lands by 2015
  • 10.2 Continue ecological surveys, preparation of habitat maps and planning of rehabilitation for all Bord na Móna bog areas
  • 10.3 Continue to develop a network of biodiversity areas within Bord na Móna sites

Indicators and outcomes

  • Number of habitat maps and rehabilitation plans for all Bord na Móna bog areas

To date, Bord na Móna has delivered on each of the actions and will work with the National Parks and Wildlife Service to build on these actions for the next national biodiversity plan which is currently in development (2016).

Kilberry Wetlands, created in 2013 on cutaway bog.

Kilberry Wetlands, created in 2013 on cutaway bog.

Other aspects of the National Biodiversity Plan (2011-2016) have also been incorporated into the day to day business activity in Bord na Móna such as:

  1. Biodiversity and ecology
    Biodiversity and ecology has been incorporated into the decision making processes and daily operations of the main business units in Bord na Móna
  2. Baseline ecology work
    The baseline ecology work has significantly increased our knowledge and understanding of the Bord na Móna peatland resource
  3. Habitats and species
    Habitats and species with legal protection have been highlighted across the Bord na Móna bogs to ensure their preservation
  4. Restoration and rehabilitation
    In the plan period, Bord na Móna has undertaken the restoration of over 1,000 hectares of raised bog habitat and begun the implementation of a range of rehabilitation works across cutaway bog areas
  5. More than 15% rehabilitated and/or restored
    In terms of rehabilitation and restoration, when we take account of previous work prior to 2010, more than 15% of the total area of land in Bord na Móna ownership has been rehabilitated and/or restored to date in line with International, EU and National 15% targets
  6. Increased knowledge
    Increased knowledge as to the GHG balance of cutaway bog habitats (acidic and alkaline wetland)
  7. The value of biodiversity
    The level of awareness of the value of biodiversity has been significantly increased within the company and the communities bordering Bord na Móna lands
  8. Biodiversity Action Plan
    Bord na Móna has developed its second Biodiversity Action Plan building on the work achieved to date

Each of these aspects is highlighted in the company’s Sustainability 2030 report (2015) and will continue to be developed over the course of the Biodiversity Action Plan 2016-2021.

A National Peatlands Strategy for Ireland

Another significant policy development in relation to Irish peatlands in general is the development of the National Peatland Strategy. In April 2011 the Irish government decided to draw up a national strategy on peatlands conservation and management. It was developed in consultation with bog owners and other stakeholders, to deal with long-term issues including: turf cutting, land management and development, restoration, conservation, tourism potential, carbon accounting and community participation in managing the resource. The government also established a Peatlands Council to assist it in drawing up the strategy and to advise it on issues related to the management of peatlands.

Drafting of the strategy was led by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in conjunction with the Peatlands Council (which consists of the relevant Public Bodies). The Peatlands Council also assisted in preparing a succession of drafts, and two rounds of public consultation were held. The strategy, entitled Managing Ireland’s Peatlands will be published in due course. The main sections of the strategy deal with traditional and changing views of Irish peatlands; principles, policies and actions in managing peatlands; and an implementation structure for the strategy. The actions relating to Bord na Móna include promotion of the use of biomass for power generation, development of guidelines and approaches to responsible peatland management in general and due regard to after-use, rehabilitation and restoration of cutaway bogs.

The Strategy represents a new approach to peatland management in Ireland, considering the full range of peatland types and uses.

Bord na Móna made a number of submissions during the course of the strategy development and the company is represented on the Peatlands Council and the Peatlands Strategy Implementation Group. The Strategy represents a new approach to peatland management in Ireland, considering the full range of peatland types and uses.

For more information see: www.npws.ie

Bord na Móna wetland areas are important sites for breeding wetland birds.

Bord na Móna wetland areas are important sites for breeding wetland birds.